LAKEVIEW — A group of southeast Lakeview residents threw its support behind a proposed medical marijuana dispensary Monday night — but voiced some safety concerns.
MedMar Inc. announced last month plans to open a dispensary at 2843 N. Halsted St., a long-vacant site that once housed a bar. The Illinois company is vying for one of two dispensary licenses allowed in Lakeview Township, a broad area bordered by Devon, Western, North and the lake. MedMar is one of three applicants.
The dispensary would be open seven days a week, according to attorney John Sullivan. It would limit appointments so that only four patients could be inside at a time.
All clients would need to have a diagnosed medical condition like cancer, HIV or Alzheimer's disease. Marijuana would only be dispensed by a pharmacist, pharmacy tech or registered nurse.
MedMar is anticipating one marijuana delivery a week, which will be brought in through a secure delivery bay behind the building. [See diagrams below.]
"There will be extensive cameras both inside and outside of the facility, including the parking lot," Sullivan said, adding that cameras will be able to capture faces and license plates. "There's going to be a heightened level of security."
Sullivan presented MedMar's plans Monday night at a South East Lake View Neighbors Meeting.
Though the group ultimately backed the proposal with a 16-10 vote, several vocal residents slammed the project, claiming it would attract crime.
"You guys are here to make money. You're a business. You don't really care about the people who live here," said Donald Sawyer, who lives up the street from the dispensary site.
Some residents said they worried the dispensary would become a target for thefts since dispensaries typically only accept cash. Patients can get up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at a time, which could retail for more than $1,000.
You have "people walking around with cash or marijuana street value. It's huge. Huge," Sawyer said. "You should be somewhere much more commercial for a business like this. We don't disagree that [medical marijuana helps people]. It's just the location's a terrible choice."
Several residents said the dispensary should be in a medical building or less residential area. Sullivan countered that finding a location was tough.
"To find a location in the city of Chicago — and certainly in all of Lakeview Township — that's 1,000 feet from a school or day care or home day care is really tough," Sullivan said, pointing to state requirements. "This is one of the few locations we could find in the city."
Sullivan said most patients would only buy about $70 of marijuana at a time. He said crime rates have dropped near dispensaries in other states because added security measures like cameras and guards serve as a deterrent.
"I know people find that hard to believe," he said. "There's 23 states that've done this. ... Every single one, crime has gone down."
Lakeview resident Sarah Chrystal said she fully supported the dispensary.
"Medical marijuana is a proven success story for so many people who are suffering," she said. "I feel very sad ... for those of you who fear this is going to lower the cost of your property, create more crime, make a worse life for you."
MedMar will present its plans again at 7 p.m. Tuesday during a Central Lake View Neighbors meeting inside the Olson Auditorium at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, 836 W. Wellington Ave.
On Nov. 21, MedMar will go before the Zoning Board of Appeals to request a special-use permit needed from the city to open the dispensary at the site.
Bennett Lawson, 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney's chief of staff, said the alderman hasn't taken a stance on the proposed dispensary. Tunney wants to gather more community input, Bennett said, and will probably offer his opinion before the board of appeals meeting.
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